TUCSON, Ariz. - It looks like immigrants who crossed the border seeking asylum will be sheltered in space originally meant for juvenile detention.
That's the place Pima County government offered to replace shelter space the area will lose when the Benedictine Monastery becomes unavailable in a few weeks.
Because the county's pushed for alternatives to locking up juveniles part of the Juvenile Detention Center is available to be converted to living space for asylum seekers.
In January, Ross Rulney, the developer who bought the Benedictine Monastery agreed to let Catholic Community Services shelter asylum seekers there while he worked to get the site ready to turn into residential housing.
CCS says about ten thousand migrants passed through the Monastery since January but now the developer needs the building back to start the housing conversion.
Now Pima County is working to lease three units of the Juvenile Detention Facility to Catholic Community Services. The lease is proposed as a hundred dollars a year. The county will ask the Federal government to reimburse county expenses.
Bishop Edward Weisenberger appreciates the loan of the monastery but says the former juvenile detention space is more ideal for their needs.
"It has laundry services, food service, it's secure. We believe we can make a welcoming environment actually removing locked doors, things of that nature, because it was a detention facility. But we actually think through the warm welcome of our up to our 50 employees and volunteers per day, anxious to be of help, we think we can make it a very warm, inviting place, as well as a really excellent facility."
The County and the Diocese say the detention center can be adapted to be a welcoming atmosphere for as many as 300 asylum seekers.
CCS Operations Manager Teresa Cavendish says, “We want to make it warm, to make it welcoming, to make a respectful and dignified environment for the folks that are going to be joining us there. So we have some aesthetic things that we need to change, some murals, some vegetation, work on getting the outdoor space so that it's a fun place to be a good place for families to linger."
Community Services says most will stay a few days while they make arrangements to travel to families that will host them as their asylum cases are decided.
Pima County Supervisors will not vote on the lease until August 6th. The diocese says the owner of the monastery will let people continue to stay there until the lease on the new facility is approved.